Imam Dr Zijad’s Corner: The Blessings of Gratitude and Shukr
When we are grateful for the blessings given to us, we benefit much. Here are some important ones that we should recognize and use as a means to motivate that sense within ourselves.
Gratitude trains our minds to focus on the right things in life. It’s akin to walking in a room filled with various colored items and focusing only on items of a specific color. If you do so, your mind will be able to easily mask the other colors as you focus on items of that specific color. Our life is no different. When we let our minds look for problems, we see plenty of them. Instead, if we rather look away from problems and focus on possibilities and go for solutions, we will get those too. Let’s, therefore, use gratitude to motivate ourselves to find possibilities and solutions and not the negatives associated with problems.
Gratitude helps us to slow down and to enjoy what we have rather than always waiting for the next wish to come true. Gratitude can help us recognize that we already have enough of what many people have for long been yearning for. We must therefore tame our Nafs to understand that if we can’t find happiness in the blessings that we have today, then we won’t be happy with what we get tomorrow. Thus, gratitude is a sense of fulfillment that comes not from wanting more but rather from a sense of knowing that Allah has already blessed us with what we need.
Gratitude helps us recognize other people’s favors to us. The Prophet through his sayings made it quite clear that expressing our gratitude to Allah by thanking Him also involves that we thank people who do favors for us. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said as narrated by Abu Hurairah: “He who does not thank people, does not thank Allah” (Ahmad, Tirmidhi). He also said: “Whoever does you a favor, then reciprocate, and if you cannot find anything with which to reciprocate, then pray for him until you think that you have reciprocated him” Abu Dawood (1672). In another hadith, he said: “Whoever has a favor done for him and says to the one who did it,‘Jazak Allahu khayran,’ has done enough to thank him.” Let’s therefore ensure that we do our part to sincerely thank our families and those who have done good to us.
Gratitude isn’t about ignoring our problems. On the contrary, gratitude helps us to be patient, accepting of life’s challenges, and accordingly trains us to seek personal fulfillment with less. Gratitude thus makes us “low maintenance” in our demands and expectations. This trait reduces our burden on those around us, making our company more pleasing to others instead of leaving us always unhappy, more demanding, and impossible to please because of unending requirements.
Gratitude is going beyond words and instead thanking through our actions. We see this in the example of the prophet whose sins were forgiven by Allah although he continued to strive for His pleasure. It was narrated that Aa’ishah said: “When the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) prayed, he would stand for so long that his feet would become swollen. ‘Aa’ishah said: O Messenger of Allah, are you doing this when Allah has forgiven your past and future sins? He said: “O ‘Aa’ishah, should I not be a thankful slave?” Narrated by al-Bukhaari (4557) and Muslim (2820). Let’s, therefore, pray the extra nawafil as one way to thank Allah for His blessings.
Gratitude helps increase one’s blessings. Allah says: “And (remember) when your Lord proclaimed: ‘If you give thanks (by accepting Faith and worshipping none but Allah), I will give you more (of My Blessings); but if you are thankless, verily, My punishment is indeed severe’” [Ibrahim 14:7] Let’s, therefore, make thanking Allah part of morning and evening remembrances (adhkars) to get more of Allah’s blessings in our lives.